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God, the Universe and Everything Else

"Feeling unhappy because it isn't immediately understandable."

"Nothing will put astrologers out of business."

Here is a video of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Arthur C. Clarke talking about everything and everything's beginning. It consists of questions and answers. The first point that Carl Sagan makes in this video is about questions and answers. He goes on to talk about answers in his own answers. Many people in this world are obsessed with finding and having answers to the questions that they encounter in their lives. Carl Sagan was not one of these people.

The canon of human knowledge will always be finite. The remainder of available knowledge in the universe will always be infinite. Carl Sagan encouraged us to celebrate that which we do not know, and attack it with questions and investigation. With full understanding that the task of science is undoubtedly insurmountable, we attempt it anyway. Not only is the task of science insurmountable, it is constantly working against itself. As soon as we figure something out, that new knowledge has a pesky habit of creating even more questions. Those people who recognize this fact, and purse the pursuit anyway are those who wind up finding the greatest answers.

Sadly, so long as there are things which we do not understand, and indeed there always will be, there will be people who will seek a shortcut to answers without even knowing the right questions to ask. It's easier to follow the words of a charismatic leader, to believe in psychics, blame personal shortcomings on fate, or settle a dispute with violence than to seek and confront an uncomfortable truth.

On behalf of all those he helped make the jump into rejecting dogma and seeking truth through rational inquiry knowing we will never fully find it, let me say thank you to Carl Sagan.

-- submitted to Celebrating Sagan by Dave Lodewyck.


new blog: According to Carl Sagan

There's a brand-new Sagan-related blog in town; topics in the 4 posts so far have ranged from the evolutionary origins of sports to neglected rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. Since Carl weighed in on a truly wide variety of topics, there should be plenty of material to blog about.

(Hat tip: Francois Tremblay; cross-posted to my personal blog)